In the 1830s workers paved Queen Street with planks. It became a toll road. Stage coaches and travelers had to stop at a toll booth where the Duke of York is now. Like service centres on today’s expressways, entrepreneurs came to serve travelers who needed to water and feed their horses in stables and replace lost horse shoes in blacksmith shops.
Wayfarers also rested, fed and watered themselves. By 1852, the village boasted three hotels, a blacksmith shop, and several general stores. When George Leslie, owner of Canada’s largest tree nursery, took over the Post Office and general store, Leslieville was born.
As Toronto’s population exploded in the 1850s, farmers subdivided their fields into small lots. Here, market gardeners grew fruit and vegetables to feed the city. Meanwhile others found clay deposits and turned out bricks to build Toronto.
Drovers herded cattle, sheep and hogs along the road from the surrounding countryside. After they reached the tollgate, they turned their weary, hungry animals loose on the grass along Ashbridges Bay to fatten and Leslieville’s butchers supplied steaks, chops, sausages, bacon, etc. to feed “Hogtown”.
Abattoirs, nurseries, and brickyards became Leslieville’s major employers. Others cut ice and fished on Ashbridge’s Bay. Small shops provided necessities from sewing needles to shoes.
Soon professionals such as doctors and pharmacists came to care for the body and clergymen to care for the soul. And so Leslieville grew until in 1884 it became part of the City of Toronto and large industries began to locate in “the East End.”
Tap the images to read our history.
The Board meets monthly. All are welcome to attend and observe. Check in here to see the minutes.
I am the director and operator of a charming and beautiful venue called The Vandenberg House, established in 2014. We provide event space for personal and corporate events. Living in Leslieville since 2008 has given me some insight and first hand experience with our ever changing, unique neighbourhood. As soon as I opened my venue, I joined the BIA as a board member to support our neighbourhood and Leslieville BIA members with a positive and creative attitude. Our diverse, friendly and small town feel is unique to Toronto and felt throughout our neighbourhood. I love our area and look forward to working with others to grow our Leslieville vision.
I am a Certified General Accountant in public practice who works in a family business that has been part of the community in Leslieville for many years. I have experience in taxation, book keeping, and financial statements. As part of the board, I hope to encourage the business to work together to create a better sense of community. I use my expertise to sit on the board as a treasurer on Leslieville. With this in mind, I represent Leslieville as a director on the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas.
After completing an honours degree at McGill and a year of travels in Japan, John attended the French Culinary Institute in NYC and went on to work at the venerable La Caravelle. He then moved on to Craft, Tom Colicchio's flagship, where over the course of almost two years John learned the successful business practices and incessant demand for high quality that won the restaurant the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the United States. Upon John’s return to Toronto, he joined the team at the acclaimed Splendido where, under Chef/Owner David Lee, he helped to develop sophisticated tasting menus and was proud to be a part of one of Toronto’s best kitchens.
In 2011, John and Erik opened Ascari Enoteca, an Italian wine and pasta bar where there is a focus on “off the beaten path” wines as well as Italian classics. Handmade pasta and inventive shared dishes rule the menu. This was closely followed by the birth of Hi-Lo Bar, a fun neighbourhood rock-and-roll bar featuring great beers, cocktails and snacks, and good times.
Max is the owner/proprietor of Avling Kitchen & Brewery, which he opened in 2019!
Brad is a resident, commercial landlord, and business owner in Leslieville and has been involved with the Leslieville BIA since its inception. For the past 25 years he has owned and managed a construction company based in Etobicoke. In his personal life Brad volunteers his time assisting various community and non-profit groups and is very active in the business and cultural communities of Leslieville